This week Bars and Clubs chatted with James France, the Managing Director of Vanguard Luxury Brands, about three exclusive bottlings he has for Australia’s on- and off-premise and Tahitian vanilla plantations.

There is a piece of Vanguard Luxury Brands history available just in time for Christmas, with two overseas distilleries offering a total of three Australia-only bottlings, writes Bars and Clubs Editor, Andy Young.

It’s the first time in Vanguard’s history it has these exclusive and talk about getting it right first time round, these are three cracking liquids, as Vanguard Founder and Managing Director James France explains.

“First up is the 58.7 per cent 2004 GlenAllachie selected for Australia by the good folks at Whisky & Alement,” France said.

“It spent its life in a PX hogshead from where it gets its amazing natural colour. Billy Walker describes it as having a taste of Christmas cake and dried fruit with waves of dark chocolate, mocha, treacle, damsons (which I had to look up: damsons are a small fruit often used in jams and preserves), cinnamon and orange zest. I’m dribbling a bit. Give me a sec.”

I’m backing James is not the only one, this scribe is already working out how to have this on the table on Christmas Day.

Next up is another Australia-only offering from GlenAllachie, back over to France, well not to France because this is Australia-only, so back over to James.

“This single malt was distilled in 2008, the year Vanguard was founded,” he said.

“Bottled in April 2019 it’s been aged in virgin barrels. The big bonus here is that Billy Walker’s official tasting notes mention bananas both in the nose and the taste. As many of you may know, we love bananas here at Vanguard.

“Billy describes it as tasting of lashings of bananas (have you ever been lashed by a banana?) and butterscotch with layers of figs, cinnamon and mocha. So we have bananas and we have 2008.

“This is a real collector’s item and highly-rated by those in the know.”

It is another amazing-sounding dram, but wait, there’s more and excuse the cliché because I’m going to drop a “last but by no means least” as Apple Brandy is one of my great spirit loves.

James talks us through this gem: “Finally we have the Laird’s single cask selection, 100 per cent Apple Brandy. It weighs in at 64.35 per cent and only have 168 bottles of it.”

He adds: “It takes three million apples to make one bottle of this. I’m rubbish at tasting notes, but it reminded me of the whiff of a Tahitian vanilla plantation after a rain shower as I sip chocolate thick-shake next to a saddlery – which is something I do most Thursdays.” Who doesn’t.

Back to James: “Actually it’s appley (of course), full of Christmas spices, a very slight hint of almonds and it’s just really good stuff.

“These are seriously great spirits, so let us know if you’d like some. And see you in Tahiti next Thursday.”

The spirits are available to both off- and on-premise venues, to find out more and to order yours, head to the Vanguard Luxury Brands website.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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